February 20, 2016

"Why Not Question Trump’s Faith?"/Why not question everything everyone asserts about religion?

The first question is asked by Kevin D. Williamson at The National Review. The second question is mine and is intended not so much as a question as an answer to Williamson's question.

Williamson says:
This is, after all, a man who avoided the draft with the help of imaginary bone spurs who nonetheless felt confident in mocking John McCain’s endurance of torture in a Vietnamese prison camp. Never mind Trump’s adultery and the pride he takes in it, never mind his desire for a hippie-style “open marriage,” never mind the bearing of false witness, the coveting, etc. Trump explicitly rejects the fundamentals of Christianity, i.e. man’s fallen state and his need for reconciliation with God. When asked about that, Trump made it clear that he doesn’t believe he needs to be forgiven for anything, that he just needs to — in his words — “drink my little wine and have my little cracker.” 
Trump explicitly rejects the fundamentals of Christianity? Do we really know that? And shouldn't we then have to question what are the fundamentals of Christianity? Is it "man's fallen state"? Isn't it love one another? Want to have a big public debate about it? Would Jesus forgive you for not forgiving a political candidate who won't say he needs forgiveness? Forgive me if I laugh.


"Depiction of the sin of Adam and Eve" by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Pieter Paul Rubens.

So what do I really think? How much religion should be part of the political debate? Speaking of fundamentals, I can't get to the bottom of that. There's already so much religion and so little religion. There's no getting to nothing, and yet going all in is ridiculous. I'm inclined to think we should judge each candidate in proportion to how much he or she relies on religion. If someone forefronts sanctimony, we should examine whether it's a lie. But if a candidate takes a minimal position — claiming a faith but grounding himself in morality that can exist apart from religion (which is what Trump does) — there's nothing to delve into. If it's a lie, it's an insignificant social lie, like saying you love your wife when your feelings have in fact gone cold.

There are no visible atheists or even agnostics at the presidential level of American politics. Do you want to start outing them? Maybe Bernie Sanders. He might be an atheist. What do you think? Want to try to smoke him out? He said:
“I am not actively involved with organized religion... I think everyone believes in God in their own ways... To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.”
To my ear, that sounds like an effort to say: Even atheists believe in God... in our own way. A mystical attitude toward all of humanity counts as belief in God. I found that quote in this article by Frances Stead Sellers and John Wagner in The Washington Post. They say:
Sanders often presents his support for curbing Wall Street banks and ending economic inequality in values-laden terms. He recently described it as “immoral and wrong” that the highest earners in the country own the vast majority of the nation’s wealth....

Their Jewish education was “unsophisticated,” [his brother] Larry Sanders said, grounded in a simple moral code of right and wrong. “He could read a prayer in Hebrew,” Larry Sanders said, “but not with a great deal of understanding.”... “He is quite substantially not religious.”
Do you feel a need to push any further? Are questions in order? Why? You shouldn't be saying: Because I oppose him politically and I think there are American voters who will vote against a candidate because his religion isn't good enough.

115 comments:

Rae said...

Most people are religious, in the sense that they believe in something greater than themselves that doesn't challenge any of their amorphous values.

Bob Boyd said...

"It shouldn't be: Because I oppose him politically and I think there are American voters who will vote against a candidate because his religion isn't good enough."

Tell it to the Pope.

rhhardin said...

Only atheists can pray, says Derrida. Otherwise it's just ordering pizza.

Sebastian said...

"grounding himself in morality that can exist apart from religion (which is what Trump does)" This made me laugh out loud. If only Mark Steyn had thought of that.

"If someone forefronts sanctimony, we should examine whether it's a lie. But if a candidate takes a minimal position . . . there's nothing to delve into." 1. So we should examine if what candidates say is a lie only if they "forefront sanctimony" but not if they forefront a "minimal position"? Why? 2. So we should look for lies only if candidates forefront religious sanctimony but not areligious secular-humanist Prog-BS sanctimony? Why? 3. So religious Americans should not "delve into" what they would regard as the unmoored shallowness of a minimalist candidate? Why? (I say as an areligious American.)

sydney said...

No, we don't need to delve into a candidate's religious faith. We don't really care, unless they are fanatics who believe in a creed that professes world domination of their religion by force and deny the existence of free will. It is actually refreshing to have a candidate who doesn't pretend to be religious. There's no reason to believe any of the other candidates are sincere about their religions. If you are going to delve into one candidate and deem him "not Christian" or "not Jewish" then you need to delve into the others, too. Few people could stand the scrutiny, and no one on earth has the standing to make that judgement.

SJ said...

[sarcasm]Didn't we learn not to question a candidate's religious background after the airing of the infamous sermons of Jeremiah Wright? [/sarcasm].



More importantly, what is the essence of Christianity?

Is it merely forgiveness, or is it the essentials of truth attested to in the Apostle's Creed?

Meade said...

"You shouldn't be saying: Because I oppose him politically and I think there are American voters who will vote against a candidate because his religion isn't good enough."

I agree. But 20,000 undocumented immigrants and their community organizers, migrating to New England in the 1630s to build "a city upon a hill" might have said we are mistaken about that: No Anglican, Quaker, or Baptists need apply.

Kate said...

Williamson, like all the pundits who oppose Trump, keeps trying to find an argument angle that will turn voters away. His vehemence stops him from questioning whether a Christian litmus test for a GOP candidate is a good idea to promote. Being a fan of his writing, I think that KW would hate this tactic if he took the time to consider it. But Trump makes people crazy.

Phil 3:14 said...

As an evangelical and a Republican, I only ask that you not pander. And if you do pander, please don't embarrass yourself (and by inference embarrass your audience.)

I assume black Christians feel the same way when Democratic candidates come to their churches on Sunday.

AllenS said...

We were subjected to watching Bill and Hillary going to church every Sunday on the news programs back when. Now, ask yourselves, what kind of Christians were these two?

Meade said...

"Now, ask yourselves, what kind of Christians were these two? "

Why should I ask myself that? Are we electing a Pope? Or just a president?

Jason said...

Ones that desperately needed to go to church!

Big Mike said...

Are we electing a Pope?

@Meade, you vote on who gets to be Pope? No wonder your avatar is a cardinal.

traditionalguy said...

Funny thing is that the Pauline Epistles that are so full of "Love Is All You Need" verses is also full of "Christ Crucified Is ALL You Need" verses. And it tells the original of the old, old story of Paul bombastically fighting Legalism Teachings of Religious Leaders that denied both of those All You Needs were good enough.

Religious Leaders Need your guilt and Shame over sins to keep sales up. But Paul says that is already all paid for, so trust the Holy Spirit and love one another.

The Cruz cult of says legalism plus one particular Right Wing theocrat is all you need.

Meade said...

@Big Mike, yeah, but this new photo ID voter law here in Wisconsin is playing absolute havoc with my franchise, bro.

Ann Althouse said...

"So we should examine if what candidates say is a lie only if they "forefront sanctimony" but not if they forefront a "minimal position"? Why?"

Because it's the standard social etiquette in our society. Haven't you noticed? We accept assertions about religion, where nothing hangs on it, for the sake of social peace, inclusiveness, privacy, and humanity. Take a look at history, take a look at the rest of the world, and it should be easy to see why this is a good way to live.

Meade said...

I think Pope Francis called that "benefit of the doubt".

CStanley said...

I've always felt the questioning of Christianoty is a stand in for questioning morality. If a politician doesn't seem to hew to the standards of Christian ethics, then the voters ought to ask how he/she does define his/her own standards.

And the issue of forgiveness certainly is central to Christianity for most practicing Christians. It relates to political leaders because it correlates with humility. If a person doesnt feel he has to answer to a higher Being, then what would make him think he is accountable to us?

Anglelyne said...

How much religion should be part of the political debate?


Just enough for us to be entertained by the exhortations of the whited sepulchres.

Williamson seems to be entering the final stages of Trump Deranagement Syndrome. Preach on, Rev'run Kev.

Paddy O said...

The love one another is the new command, it starts with Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

The issue with Trump is that he panders. And pandering is precisely what people say is what he doesn't do. He's fighting the power, telling the "truth", he'll be trusted to do what he talked about. Only, he isn't trustworthy. He says what people want to hear. And he's doing that now.

So, his religious statements are important because they suggest an important element of his candidacy is about pandering not being real or being honest. Since all Trump has to offer is his supposed willingness to fight the power and not pander, since there's no political experience whatsoever, his statements about his religion become important in a way such may not be for other candidates.

I don't like him politically, but I don't care if a politician is a committed Christian. I do want them to be honest.

And Tradguy needs to read a lot more Paul, such as 1 Corinthians 5. I can guarantee that Paul would say Trump is not a Christian. But, Paul was a Roman citizen who lived under the rule of significantly non-Christian leaders.

We don't need a Christian President. But, I would like an honest one. Trump is neither.

Michael K said...

"His vehemence stops him from questioning whether a Christian litmus test for a GOP candidate is a good idea to promote."

I agree. I like KW and have one of his books but National Review has lost its collective mind, not just over Trump. They fired Derbyshire for a column written elsewhere that is innocuous if mildly controversial, as saying true things can be controversial. Then they drove away Mark Steyn. Now this hysterical reaction to Trump.

I don't like the guy and cringe a bit if I see him talking but he is a phenomenon that the GOP created.

I don't know what will happen tonight but the evangelical Christians have been treated by the GOP just like blacks have been treated by the Democrats. It is assumed that they have no place else to go. I guess we will find out.

Bob Boyd said...

Meade said...
I think Pope Francis called that "benefit of the doubt".

Popen' ain't easy.

traditionalguy said...

Paddy...Where can I go to find more Paul? Is that extra scripture where Paul surrenders to the Pharasees and goes Legalistic? Maybe Paul wrote it after those guys had him arrested for being in the Temple, and tried for three years to kill him until Paul had to Appeal to Caesar, who actually had a Law that was not used by Religious Legalists to rule the Church for money.

Sebastian said...

"Because it's the standard social etiquette in our society." Judging candidates is not a matter of "social etiquette."

"We accept assertions about religion, where nothing hangs on it," What do you mean, "we"? What "assertions about religion" have "nothing hanging on" them? Of course, in real social life, even minimalists have to proceed very carefully -- not among the religious, but among Progressives. "Social etiquette" is changing, haven't you noticed?

"for the sake of social peace, inclusiveness, privacy, and humanity." I like social peace, and I agree that civility is a social good that requires bracketing of religious passions. But running political campaigns in these United States is not about preserving "social peace" etc.

"Take a look at history, take a look at the rest of the world, and it should be easy to see why this is a good way to live." Thanks for the sermon -- good thing nothing hangs on it. But the post was about political debate and judging candidates, not a "way to live." You argued that "we should judge each candidate in proportion to how much he or she relies on religion." I disagree: all claims by all candidates deserve equal scrutiny. In any case, a lot more "hangs on" the pseudo-minimalist secular BS of the left. (All of which I say as a non-Christian who questions religiously-based arguments on grounds other than whether they are "lies.")

bbkingfish said...

It appears that, unlike all the other candidates, Trump and Sanders are not comfortable lying about their religion.

Chuck said...

bbkingfish: No, Trump is actually the worst liar about his religion. The absolute worst. He keeps proclaiming faith, for speaking engagements at Bob Jones or Liberty. These un-Christian confessions from Trump as Althouse recited, were not in the realm of an honest statement of a complex, nuanced observance of (his)religion. No; it is simply a case of Trump having been caught saying different and irreconcilable things at different times.

More for that long list.

Althouse, I am really surprised by the incoherence of this post. You could have cited Kevin Williamson's terrific column at NRO and quit. You should have.

William said...

Ben Carson seems to be the only candidate whose life has been informed and directed by his religion. There is no earthly reason to believe that his religious faith will make him a better president than Trump or the Clintons. It is, however, a sure bet that his faith has made him a better husband than Bill Clinton or Donald Trump.

tim in vermont said...

It appears that, unlike all the other candidates, Trump and Sanders are not comfortable lying about their religion.

Not since Obama have we had a president so comfortable lying about their "faith."

Writ Small said...

In general, you shouldn't poke around people's obvious weaknesses. Trump uses this natural reluctance of others to his advantage. He goes after people's inherent characteristics, (height, looks, disabilities, etc.) as well their personal choices. Remember when Trump attacked Ben Carson's religious faith?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/10/25/donald-trump-no-apology-for-questioning-ben-carsons-seventh-day-adventist-faith/

"I'm Presbyterian. Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."

Trump apologists say that when Trump denigrates a person's religion, it's OK. Trump is asserting dominance or showing what a tough negotiator he is or telling it like it is. Possibly they'll offer a legalistic defense and coolly observe that Trump merely expressed doubts and did not explicitly criticize Carson's faith.

I don't think a person's religion or lack thereof should matter, but to wink and suppress a smile when Trump attacks while insisting that any questioning of Trump's faith be completely off limits is too much.

Chuck said...

Michael K; why do you suggest that Trump is a phenomenon that the GOP created? The GOP did nothing of the sort.

Trump has been more or less campaigning AGAINST the GOP; simply using the GOP's primaries and structures. Trump's Super PAC is right-wing talk radio, where they complain more about the "GOP establishment" than Obama and the Democrats.

In a column at the NRO misleadingly titled, "Republican Party Self-Sabotage," Mona Charen lays it out and concludes:

"With all its faults, the Republican party is the only vehicle for conservative ideas in this country. Conservatives themselves, or at least those who styled themselves conservatives, may have sabotaged it, handing the reins not to a moderate, nor even to a liberal Republican, but to a lifelong Democrat."

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/431573/donald-trump-republican-party-self-sabotage

William said...

The well known atheist Spinoza preached that one of the most sinister aspects of religion is that it causes us to sanctify and idealize our hatreds. That was certainly true in his era, but in modern times sanctimonious hatred seems more a phenomenon of the non believers on the left. I'm pretty sure that Bernie Sanders would use the power of the government to do more hostile things to the Koch brothers than Donald Trump would do to Megyn Kelly. Trump's hatreds are less threatening precisely because they are spiteful and mean spirited and not an expression of his righteous anger.

Chuck said...

I do think there is a religious figure to whom Donald Trump bears a striking resemblance; Elmer Gantry.

Paddy O said...
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Paddy O said...

tradguy, I'm talking about the letters that Paul wrote that are contained in the New Testament. I suggest you start with the letter to the Romans and continue until you finish Philemon.

If at the end of that reading you think Paul doesn't care about behavior or our Christian testimony in how we live, I'll be very surprised. I highlighted a relevant passage in the letter he wrote to the church that was in Corinth.

I entirely agree that we do not need to be circumcised in order to be Christians. That's the issue that Paul is arguing about. I am entirely against any suggestion Trump should be checked in this respect.

Mark said...

The fundamentals of Christianity are pretty self-evident. The clue is in the word "Christian" and "Christianity," derived from Christ, which is a Greek title for "anointed one," i.e. savior. The number one fundamental of Christianity is the belief and Good News that for our salvation, Jesus who is the Christ suffered, died, and was buried for our sins, then rose again on the third day, such that those who die in union with him will rise also to eternal life.

If Jesus was just some nice guy with a nice philosophy of being nice to others, people would not themselves suffer and die for believing in him. A might have all sorts of beliefs that are contrary to the faith and still call himself or herself Christian, but to believe or say that we are not each sinners (separated from God to some greater or lesser degree) and that Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, is not needed to save us from our sins (reconciles us to God), these are not Christian beliefs.

Paddy O said...

"The GOP did nothing of the sort."

I agree. I think there is an establishment, but there are a number of voices that push against it, and who are committed to conservative politics broadly.

Scott Walker is one of the most actually anti-establishment politicians out there in fighting against the public unions. He got drowned out by the "anti-establishment" circus of Trump's pandering of the week.

Mark said...

With respect to relying on one's religion, in the case of Christianity, it is an article of faith that God is the fullness of Truth. That is, He is absolute, transcendent truth itself, and thus Jesus as God is the personification of Truth. He is the Logos. It is only in such truth that we as human beings even exist. In fact, every teaching of Christianity can be explained in terms of this Truth.

The Christian view of the Christian faith is if it is all just myth and fairy tale, to hell with it. The Christian is interested in truth and only in truth because Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life," and it is only in truth that one can be genuinely free.

Hence, to rely on one's Christian faith is to rely on the pre-eminence of truth. Of course, if one scoffs at the very idea of objective truth, and believes that truth is relative and can be manipulated at will, then they will scoff at the idea of a Christian relying on his Christian faith.

And they themselves will play hard and fast with truth. And those who don't care about truth will continue to support her (or him) even through a lifetime of falsehoods, mischaracterizations, and outright lies.

rcocean said...

National Review has shown their true colors. They hate populism more than liberalism or even socialism. They even prefer Kasich to Trump. They supported McCain and Romney but Trump is unacceptable.

Now, they attack Trump's Christian religion. I guess bernie's atheism is more to their liking.

Pathetic.

Mark said...

OK, reading further now and coming to this -

claiming a faith but grounding himself in morality that can exist apart from religion (which is what Trump does) — there's nothing to delve into

There is lots to delve into here. Believing in a morality that can exist apart from religion -- or more specifically, can exist apart from the Christian (and even Jewish) conception of God -- is not a Christian belief. And if Trump believes and does that, then why object to what Williamson is saying?

Anglelyne said...

Paddy O: The issue with Trump is that he panders. And pandering is precisely what people say is what he doesn't do. He's fighting the power, telling the "truth", he'll be trusted to do what he talked about. Only, he isn't trustworthy. He says what people want to hear. And he's doing that now.

There isn't a single candidate in the line-up who isn't pandering, Paddy. What you say above can be applied to all of them, with appropriate adjustments for style. (For my taste, Trump doesn't even take the prize for 2016's "most shameless panderer".) For whatever reasons, you're very put out by the "about what" and "to whom" of this particular pol's pandering, and are using these as your criteria for selective indignation at political b.s.

That's OK; there's no getting around having to tolerate copious amounts of horseshit in politics, even from candidates we judge might be able to push this hulk in the right direction. We're naturally more irritated by the b.s. coming from what we consider to be the wrong-headed pol, and reasonably focus on the wrong-headed pol who is currently enjoying success.

But don't kid yourself that it's the "telling people what they want to hear" that's bothering you. If you sincerely believe that the current line-up includes "anti-establishment voices", then you have been successfully pandered to.

Paddy O said...


Now, they attack Trump's Christian religion. I guess bernie's atheism is more to their liking.

This is like saying that since Peter attacked the Christian religion of Simon Magus, Peter was clearly more drawn to atheism. Calling out falsehoods and misrepresentations and pandering isn't taking the side of progressives. It's calling out what people say they like about Trump, that he's straightforward and not about pandering. Only he's entirely about pandering. Chuck is absolutely right in saying Trump is like Elmer Gantry, and the religion Trump is selling is himself, not Christianity.

Paddy O said...

"There isn't a single candidate in the line-up who isn't pandering, Paddy."

Of course! But we can then look behind their candidacies and see what they do work out. Cruz panders, but Cruz pushed back in the Senate and fought ethanol subsidies. Trump's whole candidacy (all of it!) is framed on the idea that he's not just selling immigration, etc. to win, but actually believes it. He has literally nothing else to offer. No experience, not a good speaker, bombastic. So, we gauge someone one how they may succeed in what they are promising. For politicians to pander is a given, and we can use their voting records to gauge their squishiness. All Trump has is his sly "trust me," and if he's trustworthy about his commitments that goes a long way. But he shows in things large and small that he only is saying what he is saying to win, with his past and his present suggestive of a strong tendency to take positions on any topic based on what will help him personally in the moment. So, in assessing whether I should vote for him, I see his Clinton-like pandering as especially troubling.

rcocean said...

"Calling out falsehoods and misrepresentations and pandering isn't taking the side of progressives."

When NR is more interested in shooting their own side then attacking the enemy, they ARE taking the liberal side.

Go look at what Goldberg, lowry, and Williamson have written about Trump. Then compare to what they have written about Sanders or even Obama. When did Lowry ever gleefully announce that someone had "cut Obama's balls off"? When did Kristol ever say he'd vote 3rd party if a liberal Republican got nominated?

Mark Caplan said...

Psychologists have proven that, on average, religiosity is inversely related to intelligence, so a candidate's religious beliefs are pertinent to judging the candidate's overall qualifications.

elkh1 said...

Trump is a politician, he will say and do whatever to get elected.

I would question Francis's faith and politics, however. A socialist pontiff to meddle in our politics. Has never heard of the Separation of Church and State, has he?

If Francis had faith in God, shouldn't he leave our election to God's plan?

His god is not the Christian God, nor the Muslims' Allah 'inshallah'. His god is socialism which, by the way, is godless.

traditionalguy said...
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Birkel said...

This is why Althouse never thought Obama was against same sex marriage. She knew he was lying. Althouse applauds the lying from her political side. And she wants the other side held to the anti-lying standard. There was a whole strategic book built on these, and other, tactics.

And she impulsively knows to be protective of her own side when they are lying. Religion is merely a tool in this game. You play the game well, Althouse.

traditionalguy said...

What rocean said. Interestingly Pogo's citation to Paul's directed teaching to Corinthian Christians to Judge church members by excluding from the church, its sexually immoral church members is a metaphor for what the The National Review is doing from inside the Cruz Cult of Pure Conservative Ideology. That is insanity squared.

We are electing a leader for President, and a natural born one. We are not electing a Religious Sect quasi-Pope.

traditionalguy said...

Paddy, O Paddy...Are you that ignorant of Paul that you think he preached Jesus Crucified as the way to make men into better Pharisees. The Law of Sin and Death is the enemy that Jesus came to set man free from by eternally redeeming them from its judgements. The religious church operating types want men to pay for their own redemption on a regular lifetime payment plan that supports them and their pensions, and that's about it. That business model demands regular guilt and shame feelings among The Sinners who never believed being saved from legalism the first time made them righteous forever.

Real Christianity is that radical. And it gets you, like Paul, hunted down and eliminated by the Religious Trade Unionists.

Birkel said...

Mark Caplan:

You and those psychologists are lying.

Chuck said...

Here we go again:

Someone criticizes Trump (and it is usually criticism based on something where the proof exists in the form of Trump being caught on videotape saying something that is bizarre in its stupidity), and the reaction is basically, "So you must prefer Obama/Sanders/Clinton!"

The latest iteration, from rcocean:

rcocean said...
National Review has shown their true colors. They hate populism more than liberalism or even socialism. They even prefer Kasich to Trump. They supported McCain and Romney but Trump is unacceptable.

Now, they attack Trump's Christian religion. I guess bernie's atheism is more to their liking.


Uh, no. You guessed wrong. There is probably no journal in America that better qualifies as a bible of conservatism, than the National Review. That's all they claim to stand for, and they are right to call out Trump as a dangerously fake conservative.

As for "populism"; among my favorite epithets for Trump are stupid, venal, immoral, phony and sociopathic. But not too far down the list is "populist."

Birkel said...

traditionalguy,

The Crack Emcee, Shouting Thomas and Cedarford all send their condolences.

traditionalguy said...

@ Birkel...I told you before that Crack Emcee is my friend, so thanks for the compliment. And other than a wild hair about female college professors, ST is smarter than both of us.

But go fuck yourself if you called me a Nazi, you ignorant slut.

jr565 said...

But this goes back to Trump and the Corinthians two. its not just does he believe in God. He's trying to tell evangelicals "I am one of you"If he isnt, and barely has a connection to religion (as tehy might see it) then he's not authentic when he says he is.

Jim Nicholson said...

Trump has explicitly stated that he is without sin. That's pretty much a direct refutation of Christianity. So yeah, Ann, Kevin wins that one.

Terry said...

Sanders often presents his support for curbing Wall Street banks and ending economic inequality in values-laden terms. He recently described it as “immoral and wrong” that the highest earners in the country own the vast majority of the nation’s wealth....
It cannot be immoral to be an agent of the dialectic of history, comrade! Synthesis requires both thesis and antithesis!

Paco Wové said...

How much religion should be part of the political debate?

Is it really a matter of "should"? I thought it has always been a matter of "whatever works". In someone's ideal world, perhaps, political contests would be determined by prim and tidy rules of etiquette, but that's not what we have created.

In the epic climactic battle of the National Review against Trump, K. Williamson has reached the point of removing his high heels one-by-one and throwing them at the advancing monster.

Terry said...

Blogger Mark Caplan said...
Psychologists have proven that, on average, religiosity is inversely related to intelligence, so a candidate's religious beliefs are pertinent to judging the candidate's overall qualifications.

Isn't it true that, on average, years of post-secondary study of psychology is inversely proportional to sanity?

Birkel said...

traditionalguy,

Since you cannot understand why I lump you in with those other three, I will happily agree that Shouting Thomas is smarter than you.

furious_a said...

Article Six: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

furious_a said...

I'm sure the Calvinists appreciated one of their own being lectured on his Christianity by the Pope.

hombre said...

Althouse: "And shouldn't we then have to question what are the fundamentals of Christianity? Is it "man's fallen state"? Isn't it love one another?"

Funny how the libs always hang on "love one another" as the fundamental principle of Christianity.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. — Matthew 22:35-40."

Liberal Christians and doubters alike tend to focus on the second commandment to the exclusion of the first because of the implications of the first that include following God's other commandments.

Regardless, these are commandments, not the "fundamental principle" of Christianity.

furious_a said...
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furious_a said...

In Pope Francis' world:

IMAGINARY BORDER WALL USA: UN-CHRISTIANZZZ!
ACTUAL PRISON ISLAND CUBA: meh.

Jupiter said...

"There are no visible atheists or even agnostics at the presidential level of American politics."

What, you really believe Obama is a Muslim?

hombre said...

Mark does a decent job of describing the fundamental principle of Christianity in his 10:34 post.

Dude1394 said...

The National Review has quickly become a Republican Operative with a byline.

coupe said...
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Fernandinande said...

Mark Caplan said...
Psychologists have proven that, on average, religiosity is inversely related to intelligence,


True.

so a candidate's religious beliefs are pertinent to judging the candidate's overall qualifications.

Well, maybe a little. Taller people are also smarter (on average) so perhaps we should draw from the pool professional basketball players. But there are far better measures of a person's intelligence than whether or not they're superstitious.

Obviously some otherwise intelligent people are deeply superstitious, but Genes contribute to religious inclination. I see it as a conflict between the emotional rewards of being superstitious and the emotional rewards of being rational; if you have the wrong genes the superstition wins out.

Wrong genes for rationality (and probably intelligence) = the right genes for Darwinian fitness:
Model predicts 'religiosity gene'[sic] will dominate society

Sigh. "The ordinary modes of human thinking are magical, religious, social, and personal. ... For most people, wanting to know the cold truth about the world is way, way down the list." - Derbyshire

pst314 said...

"I think there are American voters who will vote against a candidate because his religion isn't good enough."

In the case of Bernie Sanders, his religion is Marxism and among his favorite prophets are Lenin, Stalin, Castro, and various other monsters.

And that Kibbutz which the Washington Post mentions? Communist. Stalinist.

Dude1394 said...

Cruz is actually the candidate that is openly using his religion as the basis for him becoming president. He is all over it.

Cruz, Sanders, Hillary are also the candidates that will attempt to be the trans formative president. Rubio as well with his open borders stance.

Trump is probably the candidate that would do the LEAST permanent damage to the country. He has no messianic drive to save everyone, he just wants to fix some problems and thinks the guys running the place now are incompetent or crooks.

I have to say I agree with him pretty much there.

pst314 said...

"Only atheists can pray, says Derrida. Otherwise it's just ordering pizza."

Derrida said a lot of things. Most of which were lies or foolishness.

Dude1394 said...

I was also pretty surprised to see Kevin bring up Trumps private sex life as something to criticize as well. I sort of thought the GOP had gotten past that, but I guess for NRO, everything has to be on the table in their Trump hatred.

It is pretty disappointing to see Kevin go there, but hatred makes you do unseemly stuff.

Chuck said...


Blogger Dude1394 said...
The National Review has quickly become a Republican Operative with a byline.


You seem offended that the Republican primary might be determined by... Republicans. What am I missing? Should we become the "Dude" party? Or perhaps "The National Front"? Would there be a difference?

Beldar said...

When it comes to reasons to distrust Donald Trump, we live in a target-rich environment.

When every other sentence he speaks (or, actually, mangled sentence; the man cannot speak in complete sentences if his life depended on it) is a complete fabrication and con job, and when you can prove that (as so often) by contradictions from his own mouth, usually on video, sometimes under oath, then no one need waste the time wondering if he's lying about his faith.

I don't believe anything he says about anything. But I don't care if he lies about his relationship with God.

traditionalguy said...

FTR the evil Legalisms Paul claimed Jesus Christ Crucified was all that was needed to set men free from condemnation by God includes:

1) Circumcision of Gentile believers, that Paddy tries to limit to being the entire message Paul was fought the good fight to the death against.

2) any religious man judging you in respect of your dietary foods or drinks.

3) any religious man judging you in respect of keeping Sabbath or observing other festivals and or fasts.

4) any once free by faith in Christ Christian bewitched into voluntarily taking back on himself the yoke of religious slavery to Mosaic Law.

5)Politically refusing to eat fellowship meals with gentile converts when the evil Legalists were watching you, even though legalists had ever been able to keep the law successfully themselves.











hombre said...

Historically, Christian voters, the vast majority, shunned atheist politicians because they knew moral relativists couldn't be trusted to behave with moral consistency. That reason is still valid. It is therefore reasonable to question a candidate's profession of religion.

The media campaigns against such questioning, because it is detrimental to progressives who are, by and large, moral relativists.

Pronouncements like the Pope's about Trump are not appropriate in the context in which it was offered because: a) It was absurd and b) It erodes the Pope's moral authority when he intervenes in political matters.

n.n said...

Whether a religion is the product of God, gods, mortal gods, lawyers, or ostensibly individual perception, judge a moral philosophy by the content of its principles. The significance of incorporation in an organization, community, or nation, can be evaluated separately.

Amanda said...

How many times have we heard accusations that Obama is a secret Muslim, that he isn't a true Christian? I'm amazed that those who actually made those accusations and insinuations toward Obama are getting their underwear in a bundle over the Pope making an observation about someone who thinks walls and exclusion are not acting in a Christian manner. Who else to accurately expose anti Christain behavior better than the head of the oldest Christian church on earth?

R. Chatt said...

Something that hasn't come up in this election cycle is that a lot of the Founding Fathers were influenced by Deism. "The belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws. Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct." (dictionary.reference.com/browse/deism) They saw the importance of a belief in God and morality but not of being "Christian" in any strict sense.

That list includes Washington who was famously tolerant of other faiths; John Adams who rejected belief in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus; Thomas Jefferson who did not believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, original sin and other core Christian doctrines; James Madison who was perhaps the strictest church-state separationist among the founders; Thomas Paine who wrote "The Age of Reason' attacking institutionalized religion and the major tenets of Christianity; Benjamin Franklin. 5 Founding Fathers Whose Skepticism About Christianity Would Make Them Unelectable Today

Consider this. If the founders had been observant Christians there probably would never have been a revolution.

1 Peter 2:13: "For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right."

Paul wrote in Romans 13:1: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resist authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."
From "Our founding fathers were not Christians"

Phil 3:14 said...

Do you think Mr. Trump can cite any of the key concepts of his Calvist faith?

hombre said...

Trump has the same good fortune as Democrat politicians. His disciples don't care if he lies.

Soon, we will all be Democrats.

Anglelyne said...

Paddy O: Cruz panders, but Cruz pushed back in the Senate and fought ethanol subsidies. Trump's whole candidacy (all of it!) is framed on the idea that he's not just selling immigration, etc. to win, but actually believes it. He has literally nothing else to offer.

Literally!

If you think he hasn't addressed anything of import but immigration, you're not paying attention. Seriously, Paddy, this is lame. What's really going on here: other issues that are important to other people aren't important to you, you don't pay attention much attention to them, though you've have managed to notice immigration because it's a big issue and a great deal of noise is being made about it. (And you think immigration restrictionists are icky people).

For example - there are those ethanol subsidies again. Ethanol subsidies appear to be a very high-priority issue to you (nttawwt), or at the very least you appear to believe that this single issue is dispositive of integrity. Now, I think ethanol subsidies are stupid, and being against ethanol subsidies is a fine thing, but unfortunately, Cruz doesn't pass either the "right position" or the integrity test on a number of issues (say, aspects of foreign policy, and yes, immigration) that are simply of much higher priority to me than ethanol subsidies.

What you manifest here is a weird inability to understand something very simple: other people don't prioritize issues in the same order you do, and, in other cases, they may just flat-out disagree with you.

Chuck said...

Right on cue, here comes Trump with another bit of speechmaking so breathtaking in its barbarity, that niceties like whether or not he is a faithful Presbyterian melt away.

Trump is a sociopath.

From the Weekly Standard's home page:

Trump tells a stump-speech audience a story that Trump "read," about General John J. Pershing, in command in the Phillipines, purportedly taking 50 bullets and dipping them in pig's blood and then executing 49 of 50 "terrorists," telling the 50th to go back to his people and tell them what happened.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/trump-tells-story-of-executing-muslim-terrorists-with-bullets-dipped-in-pigs-blood/article/2001183

The story has never been substantiated. It is widely regarded as a myth. It's the subject of Snopes debunking:
http://www.snopes.com/rumors/pershing.asp

I guess this is how Trump has such a solid hold on his 26% share of Republican primary voters; there is a group of people who actually like the idea of that story. But nobody can seriously claim this is the way to win a general election for the American presidency.

Michael K said...

"Michael K; why do you suggest that Trump is a phenomenon that the GOP created? The GOP did nothing of the sort."

You are very hostile to Trump and look for reasons.

I am neutral so far and believe that the GOP created him in much the way that GHW Bush created Perot in 1992. Had Bush kept his word about taxes, I believe that Perot would never have gotten any traction. Mario Cuomo believed that Bush would be unbeatable after Gulf War I and chose not to run. That gave Clinton an opening and the Bush tax increase damaged him badly with the average voter. I was briefly interested in Perot but quickly decided he was nuts.

Had the GOP Congress, which was the result of considerable effort by ordinary GOP voters, kept a few of its promises, Trump would probably not be getting any attention, even if he had ambitions.

Why do we still have "Continuing Resolutions" instead of "regular order" with appropriations bills as anticipated by the rules of Congress ? The "CR" allows the threat of government shutdown by Obama and always results in collapse of GOP opposition, if indeed there is any.

I am a reader of Angelo Codevilla's essay on The Ruling Class. I think he is correct.

I don't know what Trump would do but I am not terribly impressed by his rivals. For example, I believe the ICE union about Rubio's betrayal.

Mark said...

Psychologists have proven that, on average, religiosity is inversely related to intelligence

Christians for their part will happily acknowledge that the world considers what they believe to be foolishness. They also acknowledge that among Jesus' followers, the smartest guy in the room, the one who the big scholar, was a guy named Judas, who ultimately thought he knew better than even Jesus himself. But then it has always been that way since the early days of human history, when the woman and man arrogantly thought -- and desired -- that if they simply ate the fruit of the tree they could be like omniscient gods themselves.

Truth is -- the "smartest" and most "learned" people are usually the stupidest people around. That's why when they are in charge, they usually f*** everything up.

Joe said...

Like many, Williamson assumes that Christianity is defined by Catholic Theology. The reformation wasn't just a disagreement about form, but substance. And corruption.

pst314 said...

"Psychologists have proven that, on average, religiosity is inversely related to intelligence"
Just another b*llsh*t study by ideologues intent on using fake science to bash people they don't like.

Mark said...

One God, one Christ, one truth, one Church, one faith.

There is simply Christianity. Some may protest and disagree and go their own way, but there still remains the one Christian faith.

hombre said...

@R Chatt: All 56 signatories to the Declaration of Independence were affiliated with some church or another, overwhelmingly Protestant Christian, although 4 were deists or unitarian. This type of majority holds true for the signers of the Articles of Confederation and delegates to the Constitutional Convention. (Adherents.com)

Also, Romans 13:1 doesn't mean what you think it means.

ken in tx said...

The most overtly Christian president in my lifetime was Jimmy Carter. He was also the last Democrat I have voted for, and probably ever will vote for. Humility is a Christian virtue, however imposing humility on other people is not. Carter sought to to impose humility on America and American citizens. I remember his Christmas messages to the troops--humiliating.

Joe said...

"but there still remains the one Christian faith."

But there isn't any more than there is just one of any faith. Augustinian Christianity is not the only valid Christianity. For example, Pelagianism is but one alternative theology (and, frankly, one that makes a whole lot more sense to me than Augustine's theology.)

Chuck said...

Michael K; I don't need to "look for reasons" to sneer at Trump. Trump is layering them on all of us, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.

Honestly, I'm not so sure that "policy reasons" is the primary objection to Trump. It's Trump's nauseating stupidity. His relentless bone-headedness that offends me most. I don't want a joke-figure at the head of my party. I don't want to work for his election the way I would with other Republican nominees. And I certainly wouldn't trust him as the leader of the free world.

Oh, and when it comes to politics, I wouldn't take the word of any public-sector union boss. ICE or otherwise.

walter said...

Candy Man should just use the contemporary "I'm spiritual"
Trump panders on Christianity like does with Ethanol.
His response to the Pope's comments were out of the McCain's not a hero, Carson's an ok doctor reflex...followed by the usual backing off.

Birkel said...

The key, Chuck, is to acknowledge the Republican Party has left you.
I realized that when Bush 43 was president.

Jupiter said...

Chuck said...
"And I certainly wouldn't trust him as the leader of the free world."

I think we can retire that "free world" thing. The Cold War is over, and the Communists must have won, because they are now running our country.

walter said...

Dunno..Candy Man's suggested world has lots of "free".

Michael K said...

"I don't need to "look for reasons" to sneer at Trump."

Still, you are happy to find them. As for the union, I assume you are not interested in what people who enforce the border laws are worried about.

I am not a Trump guy but I'm also not the only one blaming the GOP for Trump.

A party with such a large bloc of voters who diverge so sharply from the party’s organizing ideology is either a party that will need to significantly change its ideological direction — or one on the verge of breaking apart.


Keep your sneer in place as long as you can.

Chuck said...

Oh come on, all you Trump hard guys. Trump does all this trashtalk about taking down our enemies. Dick Cheney was actually doing it.

We used to hear all sorts of talk about how the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis was the root of all evil in the Middle East. Now we see clearly; the Israelis have nothing to do with it. It's all about the 13th century tribalism of the Islamic world.

There is indeed a tough American Exceptionalism message that is there, for the candidate who can articulate it. Just not like a 4th grader (Trump) would.

Chuck said...

Birkel; I don't feel like the party has left me. I don't understand anybody who does think that. What part(s) of Republican policy bother you? Don't tell me about what you think are bad compromises with Democrats; that's a matter of Democrat Party policy. And the way we beat that is with bigger Republican majorities. And we get bigger Republican majorities with candidates who are much better than Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin and Donald Trump.

Chuck said...

Michael K, I'd be a whole lot happier to hear from somebody about border security from somebody who wasn't a union boss. And why the heck are front-line officers on our borders unionized to begin with?

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I would point out that the context of the scripture you site is that Christians are commanded to love one another. Specifically, Jesus' apostles and by implication, Christians are also commanded to love one another. Considering the subsequent history of the Church as chronicled in The Acts of The Apostles, this was a much needed instruction.

As for why we shouldn't judge another persons religion, its because only God can know what is in someone else's heart. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who stated (in Mere Christianity, I think) that someone who comes from a loving, stable family, attends a good school, has a good paying job may find it pretty easy to conform to the precepts of Christianity (at least outwardly) while someone from a less advantageous background may be undergoing a heroic struggle that is invisible to others. Christ requires us to repent and try. He doesn't expect us to be successful.

Terry said...

We perceive the world around us as symbols created in our minds by changes of potential in our nervous system. Our thoughts are then symbols that reference symbols, e.g. allegory. What does it mean for any religious belief to be literally true or not literally true?

Ron Winkleheimer said...

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God

Yeah Paul wrote that, but in Acts Peter and John disobey the Sanhedrin:

'18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”'

Acts 4

If early Christians obeyed all governing authorities then clearly there would not have been a Christian church.

Christians are not anarchists, but that does not mean that they must meekly submit to injustice either. Now you can argue that what the American colonists were enduring was not so great to merit the response of revolution (in fact I am friends with a Christian that argues just that, citing Romans 13) but using Romans 13 to argue that the Founding Fathers could not be Christian is rather risible.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

The fundamental tenant of Christianity is that Christ is the Son of God and God and man who was crucified and died for our sins and "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Christ requires us to repent and try. He doesn't expect us to be successful.

In fact, he expects us to fail.

"For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing."

Romans 7:19

Ron Winkleheimer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Winkleheimer said...

rumps Christianity is not really relevant to me as a Christian. What's relevant is whether he will do what he says he will and if what he says he is going to do is in conformance with the will of God (as best as I can perceive it.)

The Bible is rife with examples of people used by God to further His plan who were not followers of God.

Michael K said...

"I'd be a whole lot happier to hear from somebody about border security from somebody who wasn't a union boss. And why the heck are front-line officers on our borders unionized to begin with?"

Why are police officers unionized ? I think they know pretty much what is going on.

If somebody beats Trump in South Carolina, I will not be upset. The problem is that the people I liked are out now. Carly and Walker and Jindal were all pretty competent. Carly lost me when she chickened out on Muslims and the border.

Walker decided he wasn't ready and Jindal is a poor speaker. Rubio is the real "white Obama," I fear. Cruz is brilliant and I would ratehr see him on the Supreme Court.

I was all in for Romney and think the country may be in deep trouble because he lost.

He was the guy who could "ride the horse" but did not have enough "Fire in the Belly" to use the metaphor used to describe Eisenhower.

Birkel said...

Chuck:
Big government "compassionate" conservatism cannot work. It is not a matter of principle. It is an empirical matter.

You need to pay more attention to the world as it is, instead of the world as we wish it to be.

cubanbob said...

Confessionally Trump isn't a Communist. Religion wise, that good enough for me.
And Amanda unlike Obama Trump wasn't a congregant of The God Damn America Church.

eric said...

A lot of accusations I hear about Trump, stated as fact, but the NRO types, are now falling on deaf ears. They aren't true. Or at best, they are only half true. When they tell you Trump said he was for partial birth abortion in an interview in the late 90s, they don't tell you he repudiated that a few weeks later. Not years later. Weeks later.

When they tell you he boasts of sinful coupling, they refer to a few lines of his books. They don't tell you that in 2003 on a raunchy show about sex, he was asked if he and Melania use protection and he said no, they don't, because even though they weren't husband and wife at the time, they were faithful to one another.

There is a lot more to the man Donald Trump than the characterizations his political enemies impugn to him.

Birkel said...

eric:
Trump, if elected, will not prove conservative in word or deed.
Promise that you will come back for intense mocking, please.

Althouse voted for Obama in 2008 and events have proven her foolish in doing so.

I have plenty in reserve for you and traditionalguy.

Chuck said...

eric; What about TODAY? This week? This campaign?

eric, I don't need to fall back on the stupid things that Trump said in 1997, or 2007. Trump is a steady-stream of stupid things.

These are just my favorites, FOR TODAY!

~ Today, Trump talks about a ridiculous story involving General Pershing dipping bullets in pig's blood before executing Muslim prisoners. If Pershing did, he could have and should have been court-martialed. But it is a story without any basis in fact. That is the second decorated American war hero Trump has insulted IN THIS CAMPAIGN! Trump, the bone-spur draft dodger; insulting Gen. Pershing and Lt. McCain.

~ Today, we buried Justice Scalia. And now that it's fashionable to do so, Trump is loving him some Scalia. But just two months ago, Trump was criticizing Scalia on something that Trump clearly didn't understand. That being the oral arguments in Fisher v University of Texas.

~ Yesterday, Trump said, "I like the [Obamacare] mandate." Trump seems to think that "the mandate," or some other thing he is imagining, or that he would enact, would prevent "poor people from dying in the streets." Trump is just too stupid to know that since 1986, we have had the EMTALA law, which federally mandates hospital emergency rooms to treat 'poor people... on the streets.' (Trump parlance.) POLITICO reports that among health care professionals, think tanks and lobbyists, no one can figure out who is advising Trump on health care. The general thought is that no one is. Trump doesn't claim to have any health care advisors, no detailed plans. It's astonishing.

Rick said...

There are no visible atheists or even agnostics at the presidential level of American politics. Do you want to start outing them?

In retrocactive order:

Barack Obama
Bill Clinton
George HW Bush
Richard Nixon
Lyndon Johnson
John F Kennedy